Here's Why Co-Founders Need to be Friends Before Being Colleagues
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There is one question that I have been asked multiple times over the past couple of years: according to me, what is the most defining factor that drives a start-up’s long-term growth and success?
My answer is always the same: friendship.
People don’t usually expect this. They expect an answer that revolves around the importance of cutting-edge technologies, or disruptive business ideas, or market traction. But what one often forgets is that, no matter how driven they are, entrepreneurs are human beings at the end of the day. And entrepreneurship is a tough profession, far riskier and more unpredictable than many other job profiles. You have to address multiple challenges on a day-to-day basis, accomplish certain tasks and objectives, and make decisions on the fly.
As fulfilling as all this is, it can also be extremely stressful at times. It is only natural that you want people who can support you during such time. And no one does this better, than your friends. Close friends often share a superlative level of comfort and an intuitive understanding with each other – which is why having your friends as your co-founders is not only comforting, but also beneficial.
The benefits of being friends with your co-founders
Numerous industry studies have shown that having friends at the workplace increases overall productivity, collaboration, and business results. This holds even truer for start-up co-founders, who are driven by the vision to do something new and unique. Achieving that common vision becomes much easier when you have friends who are dedicating just as much time and energy as you are towards accomplishing it. By combining your mutual synergies, you are able to achieve more in a much shorter timeframe.
From conceptualising the initial idea and building a product to scaling up the business and securing investment, we have always had each other’s back. We see ourselves as not just co-founders and business partners, but also as trusted confidantes.
There have been countless occasions when we have stepped in for each other when needed. The traditional boundaries are blurred, but the camaraderie that we share helps us manage these overlaps seamlessly.
But even if they share a common vision, it is sometimes likely that co-founders have differing viewpoints on how to achieve the end-goal. I feel that aligning these varying perspectives is much easier if you are on friendly terms with your co-founders. Friends, after all, can and do call out flimsy ideas for what they are – something that a co-founder with whom you share a purely professional relationship might not do out of professional courtesy, or even if he/she does, it may sound more like a difference of opinion than a friendly advice. Being friends with your co-founders can turn a prospective challenge into an opportunity to conceptualise differentiated business strategies, and to identify gaps in execution and planning.
Friendship between co-founders also helps in nurturing and maintaining a healthy, positive work environment. Our colleagues view the founding team as a single entity and not as individuals. We have set a strong example for the entire organisation to nurture healthy interpersonal relationships. Investors are also known to show more faith and confidence in start-ups where all the founders are on the same page and share a good personal dynamic.
A start-up, it is said, is only ever as good as the team behind it. The growing number of start-ups headed by old friends is proof of the shift towards friendship-driven entrepreneurship. The success that such emerging ventures are garnering is not coincidental. Rather, it is built on the strong foundation of friendship amongst their senior leaders.